For 18 years I taught 3 and 4-year old’s in a preschool classroom. Averaging 30 kids a year that would mean I’ve worked with 360+ kiddos. I loved my job. But then along came an opportunity to be a part of a first-of-its-kind recreation center for children with weak immune systems.
And now I love my role of Program Manager even better! It’s been a blessing the past 6 years to watch our children learn and grow. I’ve loved the personal family connections and helping during their tough times. I work longer hours and it’s more physically challenging but I love it and wouldn’t trade it for the world.
“And now I love my role of Program Manager even better!”
What is the starting point for a program?
Everyone who walks through our door is going through something or dealing with something we may or may not know about. Maybe they are being left with grandma for an extended time or maybe they have an upcoming medical procedure looming on the horizon or maybe they are looking at a mountain of medical bills, it’s always something. Whatever it is, we know no one arrives on the same playing field. And we’re here to meet them where they are
2019 Little Tots University
What goes into planning a program at the Center?
Years and years ago, when I first began teaching, I used to say to myself “what do I want to teach today” but now we start with “what do we want the kids to gain” from coming to the center today. Believe it or not, every program has a written lesson plan. It’s typically a two to four-page plan for what is going to be done during the session. Now, I say this pretty loosely, as our program interns and staff know our overall philosophy is “adapt and change.”
“what do we want the kids to gain”
What is included in the lesson plan?
The person leading/executing is the author of the plan. Our goals/objectives are listed. Programs typically run for two or two 1/2 hours, with amount of time for each area listed: ie 30 minutes play, 30 minutes craft, 15 minutes snack, 45 minutes fitness. Next we indicate, room usage: Exploratory Play, Art, Outside etc. Finally, details of how we are going to execute the plan. What we are going to be doing, how we are going to do it, supplies needed, furniture usage, cleaning details and more.
Why do we need to make changes?
There are so many variables… we don’t usually know exactly how many people are going to attend, we’re not sure what their unique interests will be, we won’t know their learning style (visual, hands-on, verbal etc). Perhaps the child has crutches or a wheelchair, we’ll adapt to meet their needs. So, as you can see, our plan is just a piece of paper to use as our guide. As follow-up, after each program we critique how we did. We make sure to note what worked well and what we can improve on.
What’s different about an Event?
Our special events are awesome! We do things for Moms, Dads, Sons and Daughters. Some of the themes might be Star Wars, Enchanted Evening, Daddy Daughter Dance. We also do our big celebrations like: Halloween, Christmas and Easter Egg Hunt. Our events are huge parties where they play games, do crafts, bond with food and have special favors. We have some amazing Program Partners that donate food, beverages, photography, giveaways etc.
Anything else noteworthy?
I need to mention: our programs are completely donor funded
and because of this our families don’t pay for our services. This means we have to be diligent with our finances and often frugal with our purchases. We don’t waste. We rely heavily on donations of time (volunteers), talent (program partners) and treasure (all our donors). We could not do what we do without any of these important pieces to run our programs at Children’s Healing Center.